Tag Archives: graffiti

Graffiti, vines and ambivalence

Graffiti and vines
I normally like graffiti - but I'm not really thrilled by this expression of art. For me it's a combination of the wrong canvas (face brick), the location (which was among the vineyards in Stellenbosch) and I guess the lack of originality that makes me a little ambivalent about the work.

How do you feel about artwork, and about graffiti in general?

From teenager to dad – once a skater…

Graffiti at Son Skate Park
Once a skater always a skater - even if only at heart. It feels like it's been forever since I last touched a skateboard, and going along to Red Bull Manny Mania really got me excited about skating again - it's awesome.

If you missed my previous two posts about Red Bull Manny Mania - click here to read a little more about the event, and hey, you may even decide to dust of your old board and compete in Durban or Johannesburg. :D

Notice how the dad in the photo is keeping his young-one focused on the ramps? I'm sure he's going to be a champion some day!

Reach for what life is all about – Red Bull Manny Mania!

Skateboarders relaxing
Aren't skaters just awesome? I took this photo just before the start of Red Bull Manny Mania got underway - clearly the guy on the left had worked hard on his tricks and was taking a well-deserved rest before the competition started.

If you're in Durban, try to make it through to the competition on Saturday; it's going to be awesome!

Isn't that a great piece of wall art?

Tunnel beneath the rails

Tunnel beneath the rails
Instead of a bridge for pedestrians to cross over the train tracks at Kalk Bay station, there's this short subway that leads commuters below the tracks between platform 1 and 2.

If you catch yourself traveling the "tourist route" from Cape Town to Simon's Town, then you may like to climb off at Kalk Bay to spend an hour or three visiting restaurants like The Brass Bell and Cape to Cuba; or perhaps spend some time browsing the small shops that line the main road, and then wander over to Kalk Bay harbour to see the fishing boats and watch the sea-hardened fishermen offload their catch.

Kalk Bay's a great place to visit and comes highly recommended - even if you decide rather to visit by car (and perhaps stop there for breakfast before heading on to Cape Point).

The blue light that you see at the end of the tunnel isn't the result of artistic photo-manipulation, it's rays of sunlight being filtered through the weather-proof structure that leads from the platform to the stairway. It does look kinda awesome in a photo, now doesn't it? :)

Football matches of 2010

Football matches of 2010
It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since the world arrived on our doorstep. This makeshift scoreboard and graffiti is part of the remnant left over from the 2010 Football World Cup.

Besides for us being a football-crazy nation, we were excited to host the world cup event because of the promise of long-term revenue that the publicity around the event would generate. It's a pity that revenue derived as a result of the World Cup is so difficult to measure - I'd be interested to know how much effect the event had, and continues to have, on our economy.

A pretty kind of ugly

A pretty kind of ugly
This sure isn't a well-painted wall, nor is it a beautiful work of art or graffiti - but still, don't you find that this section of wall has some kind of appeal? I'm not sure, perhaps it's the layers of paint, old doors, and damaged walls that cause a tinge of nostalgia towards the things of old.

Many people would jump at the chance of having everything be pristine and new, but don't you think the City would lose some of it's character if, in some way, it were possible that all these building would be restored?

However, I'm torn in two because there's plenty of room for improving the City's surrounding suburbs - and while I'm all for beautifying and uplifting rundown areas, I'd hate to lose all the history reflected in these walls.

Say what?

I found this piece of graffiti in Salt River interesting - I think it was because of the dark layers of muted colours beneath, covered by the bold white lines. I stood looking at this piece of graffiti for quite some time before realising that either it never meant anything, or I was just not going to see what the artist was trying to say.

Do you have any idea what this could mean, or do you think the artist wasn't an artist, or expressionist, at all?

Are we human or are we dancer?

Adidas on a bike
At first I never realised what this mural was about - but then when reviewing it this evening I realised that it's an advert - for Adidas. Perhaps just like you, I enjoy good clothing, but contrary to many I'm in no way brand loyal. I don't identify myself with a particular brand and have a rather cynical view on, especially, branded clothing.

Many photographers are extremely loyal to the make of camera that they use. I happen to use a Canon camera, but I'd switch to another make in the blink of an eye - provided of course that what I switched to is of similar or better quality.

Isn't it strange how people are affected by branding and marketing? Isn't it interesting how one's opinion can be swayed by a marketing company associating one thing with something that one may aspire to be - like Adidas being associated with this cool-looking guy on a bike?

Marketing and media really do have the power to sway our minds - in a way we're just putty in someone else's hands, and I guess this is partly the motivation on my post about the media and I believe a part of the message behind the The Killers song, Human. See the "Meaning" section of the Wikipedia article if you're unsure of what I'm referring to.

Are you human or are you dancer?

Faith and The Cape of Good Hope

Faith and The Cape of Good Hope
I found this artwork in the old suburb of Salt River - that's the one just after Woodstock, which borders directly on the City and is named after the (you've got it!) river called Salt River. If you read yesterday's post, you may now have been observant enough to recoignise them in this photo.

Take a closer look and you'll see that today's photo is simply a different perspective on yesterday's one. The main photo from yesterday's post is content of the letter "I" in the word "FAITH".

I have a couple of ideas, but I'm not completely sure what message the artists were trying to convey on this wall. Would anyone venture taking a guess? Please leave a comment on this post if you think you know what they were thinking.

Failure is just an early attempt at success…

Station graffiti
Isn't this just the coolest piece of graffiti? The statement is impressively profound - compared to what one normally finds scrawled on walls... or indeed finds scrawled on the rest of this wall.

I'm using this photo as a desktop background at the moment - it's somewhat different as far as desktops go. :) Why not click on the photo to see the large version and then download it as a desktop background for your own computer? Just leave a comment on this post if you're unsure how to do so and I'll try to help you out.

A graffiti hammock

A graffiti hammock
Did you spot the guy lying in the hammock, on the right side of the photo? Isn’t it awesome?

Some would say that this is “just graffiti”, or perhaps the defacement of the wall. But I think (and I trust that I’m not the only one) that there really is something awesome about it. Did you notice the text, and the care with which the dots and little lines have been drawn? Some people have such a talent for art. Me on the other hand… I’m really brilliant with stick-figures. :D

Tsotsi and the CIA

Cape Town Graffiti

One of the large gangs in the Cape Town area goes by the name "The Americans", and one of the other large gangs calls itself "The CIA". We can't be sure, but it's possible that one of these gang members marked this wall with the name CIA.

Tsotsi is a Sesotho word meaning "thug" or "thief", and the word is often used to refer to a gang member. Tsotsi is also the name of an Academy Award-winning film directed by Gavin Hood that depicts the life of a gang leader in Soweto, near Johannesburg.

It's easy to judge gang members for who they are and what they do. The film Tsotsi gave me a little more insight into the life of one young man who grew up in an environment that practically forced him down a path of crime and gangsterism. The hard side of a gang member is a given, but the movie also depicted the softer side of a young man just trying to survive in the world in which he lives. I seriously encourage you to watch the movie - it really was fantastic.

Watch the short trailer here on YouTube, or a different one on the official movie site.

Under the bridge

Graffiti under the N1

I mentioned graffiti, and its often un-artistic form, in the previous post. This photo is taken at the Kuilsrivier crossing of the N1 national highway - about 30 kilometres from the city centre.

Reflecting on the photo caused me to wonder if the 26 painted on the wall was a reference to the 26s prison gang prevalent in the Cape Town area. As I understand it, the 26s, 27s and 28s are three prison gangs with different roles. I won't get into it now, but it seems as though the 26s are focused on accumulating wealth "which was to be distributed among all three segments, through cunning and trickery but never violence", according to this article.

Who in the world is Dratlock?

Concrete pylon

I have no idea who Dratlock is. It may not even be someone's name, nickname, or callsign. Does anybody have an idea as to who or what it is?

I've posted photos of graffiti in Cape Town before, mostly of mural art rather than instances of vandalism. The reality is that just like any city ours has its fair share of graffiti that is not always the most appealing or artistic type. Plenty of tax money ends up being spent on cleaning up the mess instead of on improvement projects, or benefiting the community in some way. The City of Cape Town is however in the process of drafting a by-law to address graffiti. The by-law will put in place a graffiti unit that will focus on the problem and be in a position to lay civil and criminal charges against offenders.

I remember years ago when we visited Sydney my nephew mentioned that kids under 18 aren't allowed to buy spraypaint at all... and in fact may not be in the possession of such unless in the presence of an adult! This law is much like the law that prevents kids in South Africa from buying cigarettes. The reality is that many kids under 18 manage to buy smokes anyway, so I don't believe limiting who may buy spraypaint would be very effective. In fact, it would have totally sucked if this law were in place in South Africa when I was younger. I remember buying loads of paint in my youth to spray everything from skateboards to science projects, and even shoes! Seriously.

If you are an artist, then don't worry too much. It seems as though the by-law will cater for graffiti artists, providing areas for them to express their art... which I must say, is often just astounding.